I too went to a school that had its school bully. He was 6” taller and 6” wider than the rest of us and wore a crew cut and a scowl. I will seal his juvenile record by calling him Biff.
Biff was always on the prowl, ever with a growl. He pushed his way around and intimidated we wee ones. He certainly liked to pick on me.
One day we were sitting at the lunch table. To my right was my bosom buddy. We were pals because I was funny, and he liked to laugh. Across from us sat Biff.
I sensed an opportunity. I waited until my friend grabbed his carton of milk and put it to his lips (the cool boys didn’t use a straw). Then with the comic timing of Jim Gaffigan, I said something funny.
His mouth instantly exploded with laughter, thus showering Biff with milk. His face and shirt were covered. It was so perfect. The whole table of kids howled. Biff reacted, jumping up and lurching across the table to grab me.
I got up and ran. My friend watched and laughed. Biff chased me around the cafeteria. (Where was Sister Mary Cletus when I needed her?)
I exited the school with him right on my tail. I ran down Loretta Ave – one block, two blocks and three. His face was a pace behind. My lungs were starved for air, but I ran.
I circled back, thinking I could find help at school. The cafeteria was empty – all had gone back to class. I was alone and Biff did not relent.
I ran into the girl’s bathroom thinking Biff wouldn’t dare, but he did. (Hey, did you know that the girl’s bathroom smells better than the boy’s)
I was trapped in a stall, on a pot, cowering in fear, while he blocked me in with his massive frame. I trembled as I waited to get another beating.
I still remember that fearful sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach.
In fact, I am feeling it again – but this time the bully is a lethal virus that seems every bit as relentless.
I watch the news and get a daily dose of despair. The economy is unraveling, the death toll is rising, and the hope of full recovery is pushed back every day.
And the aloneness is profound. Social distancing is one thing, but the people and things that I look to for help aren’t there for me. Government seems to dither, I can’t gather with the saints at church, and out of caution I am not able to be with my kids and grandkids.
But I do find comfort in the words of Paul in 2 Timothy 4:16-18. “At my first defense no one appeared in my support; instead they all deserted me—may they not be held accountable for it.”
Paul, was in Rome at the time, on trial for preaching the faith. The apostle was typically surrounded by a host of others, but at the time he went to trial, they bailed. Should Paul be found guilty, he would face the lions in the Roman Coliseum while a bloodthirsty crowd cheered. He was facing a frightening scenario.
It was a vulnerable moment for Paul when he said, “no one appeared in my support” – “they all deserted me.”
He went on to say, “But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message would be fully proclaimed for all the Gentiles to hear.” (17) He spoke of a unique experience with the Lord – as if the Lord was at his side, serving as his defense attorney.
Of course, the Lord has promised to always be with us (Matthew 28:20) but Paul seemed to be speaking of a unique experience – a special grace that he could sense.
The Lord calmed the tremble in his hands, straightened his weak knees and gave him convincing and powerful words. He strengthened Him.
That’s what I need right now. I want to sense the Lord standing with me. I need to experience His strengthening. Perhaps I would have it if I were to consult with my heavenly attorney more often through prayer.
Paul concluded, “And so I was delivered from the lion’s mouth!” He was acquitted and set free.
Back in that bathroom stall, I was stunned. Biff was ready to pounce, when suddenly he turned and just walked away. Maybe he was a nicer guy than I had previously thought. Either way, I too was delivered from the lion’s mouth. And so, shall we!
Scripture translation is from the NET Bible ®